The quick recap: Archie Goodwin is very good.
It’s the same old story in Lexington, freshmen phenom plays an incredible game. The thing is, it still doesn’t get old. He finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists with only three turnovers. And with shooting 8 out of 14 from the field and 5 of 7 from the free throw line, Goodwin put in a very efficient performance. I know it’s early, but he may be the most polished freshman that Cal has brought to Lexington. Again, he showed how he can get to the rim almost at will. And again, he showed the ability to draw contact and get to the free throw line. Tonight, it was the Archie show.
The only real constant during this early season for the Cats has been the hustle of Nerlens Noel. As I’ve pointed out before, he hustles. He hits the floor. He runs. He jumps. Tonight, Noel had 18 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks. And even though he’s been the most consistent, he’s also shown a lot of improvement. Just like Anthony Davis learned last year, Noel has been blocking shots and keeping them in play instead of blocking them out of bounds. Those types of plays are just like steals and can fuel the Cats fast break, like they did tonight.
I tweeted this out during the game, but I will repeat it here: If there’s a power forward in the country that can outmuscle Alex Poythress on the low block, I’d love to see it. Alex had 22 points, 9 rebounds on 9-11 shooting tonight. And the scary thing? I still don’t think he gets about 50% of what he’s supposed to do on offense. Of anyone in the Blue and White, I think he’s got phenomenal potential. And when it finally clicks (and it WILL) watch out, because Mr. Poythess is going to bring down the hammer… hard.
This team is still learning and it’s still growing. A lot of their collective success so far has been on talent alone, but there’s noticeable improvement. Sure, the defense is a work in progress, but I think that’s more an effect of not communicating like they should versus individual effort. And that is a fix that will occur over time. You can harp on that, as I’m sure Coach Calipari will, but I do like the fact that this freshman dominated team only had 10 turnovers despite the hectic pace. Bottom line, this team is getting better and that’s something that should scare all the rest of the country.